Spitkoppe is an attractively shaped mountain on the main drag between Swako and Windhoek (we were now heading back to Windhoek). Its been called the Matterhorn of Africa due to its similarity in shape. Well, maybe but it’s a bit like comparing Fish river Canyon with the Grand Canyon, once you’ve seen the real thing comparisons aren’t helpful.
What was fascinating was the little community camp ground at the foot of the mountain. Run by the local women’s development corporation, it had a basic bar constructed of stone with a shady pergola attached and some half finished thatched chalets. The toilets were long drops stuck in the middle of the desert with shade cloth doors and hesian or bamboo walls, whilst the showers were similar in construction with gravity fed water. There were even some ‘natural’ camp sites quite away from the rest of the camp, which is why they must have been called ‘natural’; after all if you got up in the middle of the night for a pee only the most conscientious are likely to walk 200 metres to relieve themselves. We were tempted to stay there but decided against it, in order to make some time to our next destination, Gross-Barmen Hot Springs.
Gross-Barmen was a MET resort and we were a bit concerned that as we hadn’t booked anything, it might be full. Well we shouldn’t have worried, even though it was late in the afternoon and a Sunday there was only one other site in use. We had an ablution block and a kitchen for our own exclusive use for the two nights that we stayed there.
As the name suggests the main attractions were the baths. There were 2: one to put minerals into your body and the other to cook them out again and leave you looking like a red double decker London bus with skin as creviced as Mount Everest. Wow, that thermal bath was hot!
These baths, in fact were the only attractions. We had only selected it as was within striking distance of Windhoek and we decided that it was a good place to ‘veg’ for a day.
Our site was on the edge of the campsite and probably about 500 metres from the staff accommodation. On our second night, the staff decided to have a party, or at least that’s what it sounded like. So from about 10 pm till the early hours of the morning we treated to some popular African music, trouble was that it was all the same and I don’t mean it sounded all the same; it was the same! There was one particular song that was played over and over and over… We actually found out by hearing it again sometime later that it was Sum’Bulala by Brenda a smash hit in Southern Africa.
We spent the next 3 nights back at the Cardboard Box in Windhoek. Our camping tour through Botswana didn’t start until Friday and as it was Tuesday when we left Gross-Barmen we had to cool our heels for 3 days. Werner came and picked up the hire car and was pretty good about the bill from Hennie. He did however charge us for a small crack in the windscreen and a broken gas light glass, the former happened on the road back from Sossusvlei as a Landcruiser coming in the opposite direction rounded a bend and chucked up most of the loose gravel between us. We really didn’t have a problem with either and I think, in a weird sort of way, we were quite sad to hand back the little Chico that we had become quite attached to.
Apart from some sojourns into Windhoek we spent most of that time reading and deciding what we were going to do after the tour had finished.
We spent a couple of hours following the Hofmeyer walk on the outskirts of the city. At least we thought we followed the walk until we came across a sign towards the end, pointing in a different direction. It didn’t matter too much, the point of the walk is too see elevated views of the cityscape and its surrounds and we had achieved that. We finished that off with an indulgence trip to Gathemann’s, a colonial style café famous for its great terraced outdoor area and lots of mouth-watering cakes and pastries. Unfortunately neither the cakes nor the coffee lived up to its reputation and we just had to be content with the activity of people watching from the terrace.
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